Filet Mignon — Bison-Style

My new favorite filet mignon isn't made of beef.

As a kid frequenting Sizzler with my parents (yes, the Food Gal did haunt that establishment back in the day), my Dad would always order a filet mignon for me.

Because it was smaller than the other cuts on the menu, it was the perfect size for a smaller eater. It was always tender, too, a good choice for a kid who didn’t like chewing too much.

As I got older, and started cutting back on the amount of red meat I ate, filet mignon still popped up in my diet, but much less frequently. As my taste buds changed, I started enjoying it less, too, because it was always a little lacking in the flavor department, if you know what I mean.

Enter filet mignon made from bison. (Not to be confused with buffalo, which are a whole different species, even though the two terms are commonly used interchangeably.)

Before Northern Europeans settled North America, there were upwards of 70 million bison on the continent. But by 1889, after overzealous slaughtering, less than 1,000 bison remained. In 1905, the American Bison Society was formed to protect the animals from extinction. Today, thanks to efforts from ranchers, bison number more than 350,000.

Two such bison ranchers are Ken Klemm and Peter Thieriot, otherwise known as the Buffalo Guys (see what I mean about interchangeable terms?). Their herd of about 500 bison graze in northwest Kansas. They also contract with other ranchers in Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana. Together, they sell ramge-raised, hormone-free, antibiotic-free bison meat in stores nationwide and on the Web.

Leaner than beef, buffalo meat even has fewer calories and less fat (including saturated) than skinless chicken breast. It also has more iron than beef, pork or chicken.

The Buffalo Guys were kind enough to send me a sample of their New York strip, filet of sirloin, ribeye, and filet mignon. The hubby, aka Meat Boy, grilled the steaks until medium rare. Because the meat is so lean, you don’t want to cook it beyond that.

Bison New York strip.

The buffalo meat was supple, but it does require more chewing than beef. Meat Boy is admittedly an avowed Beef Boy. While he liked the deep flavor of the bison, he still hankered for the more tender texture of beef. That is, until he tried the buffalo filet mignon.

It was the most tender of the buffalo cuts that we tried. It also is firmer than beef filet mignon, a welcome change because we both find that cut of beef too flabby at times. The flavor of the bison filet mignon is robust — sweet, mineral-y, and big tasting.

For smaller red-meat appetites like mine, it’s a perfect choice. You don’t need a huge portion in order to feel very satisfied. After just a few bites, your mouth is just filled with the flavor of the meat. Even Meat Boy, who is usually no fan of filet mignon, really enjoyed the bison one.

If you’d like to have your own buffalo experience, the Buffalo Guys are offering FoodGal readers free shipping through Sept. 7 on a $79.95 Taster Pack, plus anything else you want to add to that order. Just use the promo code, “FoodGal.”

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Date: Tuesday, 25. August 2009 5:50
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15 comments

  1. 1

    I LOVE the Bison Guys! They are the vendors of the Bison Sampler we carry. I have tried their Bison Strip Steaks, Bison Rib Eyes, Bison Burgers, Bison Brats and Bison Andouille. All of it….AMAZING!

  2. 2

    I haven’t had an honest to goodness steak in so long and to be staring at this picture, well its hard – sounds delicious and I love bison meat. I may have to take advantage of this offer.

  3. 3

    I like the idea of healthier meats and alternative to beef. I’ve made bison meatballs in the past and liked the deeper flavor. Got to try the bison filet mignon now!

  4. 4

    Carolyn, This looks like a great company and I love the idea of Meat Boy enjoying a Filet Mignon. I’ve typically shied away from them myself but did a blind tasting of filets from different artisan farms and was really surprised at the flavor (though they were still too tender for me, I like a good chew). Maybe it’s time for a buffalo/bison tasting, I’ve long wanted to try Wild Idea Buffalo, too.

  5. 5

    I’ve never had Filet Mignon made from bison. How interesting!

  6. 6

    I’d love to taste that! We have bisons here, but their meat is destined for big restaurants… Cooked to perfection!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. 7

    I read about bison grazing in Eating Well and learned how much easier on the environment they are than cows. If I go back to eating red meat, I’ll start with bison!

  8. 8

    That sounds delicious. My boyfriend swears by bison meat, but I haven’t tried much myself. It’s great that you were able to compare the various cuts. I will admit that I had no idea Bison and Buffalo were different animals. Now that I think about it, it makes sense, but I never thought to question it before.

  9. 9

    The bison burgers also rock. They have a very deep flavor. As good as the Snake River Farms Kobe ones, but in a different way. Big, big flavor with bison burgers, but not the fat-coating-of-the-mouth experience you get with the Kobe ones. Both are tasty, but one is definitely easier on the cholesterol and calorie levels. ;)

  10. 10

    I love bison fillets – I find those to be just as tender as beef. We mostly have bison instead of beef now although last night we tried the grass-fed beef fillet mignon as a special treat and those were fantastic.

  11. 11

    had buffalo strip for the first time at Tarpy’s- had always wanted to try it – and now to hear that bison is even better….wow! Now to get a chance to make it at home…move over beef, bison is better!

  12. 12

    that bison steak looks just right–i love my steak rare like that too!

  13. 13

    That is one of the best bison steak photos I’ve seen on the internet.

  14. 14

    David: I am honored by those words. I still don’t consider myself much of a photographer (I’m been doing the writing part far longer than the shooting part). And to me, meat is one of the hardest things to photograph well. So I thank you very much for the compliment. You made my day!

  15. 15

    You keep saying that, but I think your photos are wonderful. They’re well styled, well-lit, sharp — and delicious!!

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